Recovering from a total knee replacement
You’ll usually be discharged 4 to 5 days after total knee replacement surgery. It’s important that you are able to get safely home and perform regular activities, such as getting to the bathroom and preparing food. If not then we may recommend in-patient rehabilitation. This allows for further work with the therapists and 24-hour support services. We can arrange for home physiotherapy visits as part of post-operative care.
You will be seen in the outpatient clinic at six weeks and one year post operatively. The majority of your swelling will reduce by three months but swelling is detectable for up to one year after the operation. The final, long term function of your knee replacement will not be known until at least a year after the operation.
Most patients take their first steps after surgery with the aid of a walker. Patients with good balance and a strong upper body may opt to use crutches. All patients are allowed to fully weight bear unless specifically told not to (ie a redo or revision knee replacement). The first 4 weeks usually require assistance such as a walking stick; it is 4 to 6 weeks before walking is unassisted. Your physiotherapist will work with you to get up and down steps before you are discharged home. It is 4 to 6 weeks before unassisted stair climbing. Often this can take longer.
Return to driving depends on a number of factors, including the side of your operation and the type of vehicle you have (standard or automatic). Patients need to be able to safely and quickly operate the gas and brake pedals. This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks.
Return to work depends on the activity that you have to do at your job. Patients who work in a seated position, with limited walking, can plan on returning about 4-6 weeks from the time of surgery. Patients who are more active at work may need more time until they can return to full duties. Patients may not be able to return to activities such as heavy lifting after knee replacement. It usually takes 4 to 10 weeks to return to work, depending on work obligations.